Expert advice

Medicines management: How best to manage medicines that patients bring into hospital

When patients bring their own medicines into hospital, it is important they are managed effectively. The following tips from medicines management expert Matt Griffiths will help ensure your patients get the right medicines at the right time, and that they are stored safely.

When patients bring their own medicines into hospital, it is important they are managed effectively. The following tips from medicines management expert Matt Griffiths will help ensure your patients get the right medicines at the right time, and that they are stored safely


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Patients are often asked to bring their own medications into hospital. This helps staff to keep an accurate record of what is currently being prescribed and actually taken, and ensures any medication issues can be addressed.

It also helps ensure that patients receive their regular medication if those medicines aren’t stocked in the hospital pharmacy.

Patients with multiple conditions often bring vast quantities of medications into hospital. When they move wards, their medicines sometimes don’t follow them and can get lost, meaning they need to be replaced by the hospital pharmacy, sometimes at considerable cost.

Missed doses

This can also cause delays to patients getting their medications at the right time and result in doses being missed. It can have a detrimental effect on the patient, especially where medication is time-critical, such as in those with Parkinson’s disease.

When a patient is admitted, look through their medications and see what needs to be kept to tide the patient over for a few days. Regularly used medications, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, don’t need to be kept as there will be stocks of them in medicines trolleys.

Keep what medicines are needed in their original packaging, ensuring the patient’s name is clearly visible on the pack, and ask the patient’s relatives to take the rest home.

Discharge planning

Each patient’s medicines should be kept in one place so they don’t get mixed up with those of other patients. Where possible, keep them in locked cabinets in bags labelled ‘patient’s own medicines’.

When a patient moves to another ward or unit, ensure a medicines checklist is completed, and check that the patient has all their medicines with them, including any that may have been put in the fridge.

Although this can seem like yet another job when ward staff are already under incredible stress, effective management of patients’ own medications helps ensure care is patient-centred, and helps discharge planning run more smoothly.


Matt Griffiths is visiting professor of prescribing and medicines management at Birmingham City University 

 

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